Suicide As a Direct Result of Guidelines – Pain Helped Him Pull the Trigger – Montana Looking Hard at What is Happening Due to the CDC Guidelines


Bob Mason, Suicide Due to Pain, April 26, 2016 … How Many More Before Our Government Will Address this Issue … Montana is looking twice at what they’re doing …


“For the last couple weeks up until Bob passed away, there were a lot of tears everyday on the phone,” Mieski said, “between the pain and really just the sadness of not being able to walk his dog, which, I’m sure it was more than that. There would be tears, then he would joke,” she said, “then he’d call back an hour later and be teary and in pain again.”

One of Mason’s doctors was Mark Ibsen in Helena. Ibsen shut his practice last winter, after being investigated by the Montana Board of Medical Examiners forover-prescribing the powerful and addictive painkillers known as opioids.

That meant Bob Mason lost his access to the painkillers he needed to make his life bearable. Mieski says she remembers her dad talking about seeing another doctor in Butte to get relief. But he was in too much pain to make the trip from his home in Helena.

“An hour down and an hour back, it was too painful,” Mieski said. “He would wince every time he sat down, and cringe, and I swear I could hear his back creaking every time he stood up.”

In March a group of chronic pain patients in Montana presented what they call a “pain patient’s bill of rights” to the state legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee. Terri Anderson from Hamilton was one of them.

“On behalf of all those who suffer pain, and Robert Mason, who took his own life because of uncontrolled pain,” Anderson said to the committee. “We are a diverse group of patients,” she said. “We come from all walks of life, and we believe the treatment of our chronic intractable pain is a fundamental human right.”

Anderson says the pain patient’s bill of rights is based on similar legislation in California. Lawmakers there found that the state has a right and duty to control the illegal use of opioid drugs. They also found that for some patients, inadequate treatment of acute and chronic pain is a significant health problem.

California’s pain patient’s bill of rights allows a patient to request or reject the use of any or all techniques in order to relieve their pain.


California’s first version of the pain patient’s bill of rights became law in 1997.

Los Angeles area doctor Forest Tennant advocated for it. He now treats patients who come from states all over the country – including Montana – who can’t find effective pain treatment at home.

“The last week or two has just been unbearable,” he said. “We hardly want to take the phones, [because of] the number of people calling that want to come here.”

Dr. Forest Tennant treats pain patients from all over the country at his practice in West Covina, CA.

“A lot of it is, doctors in other states don’t want to treat anybody,” Tennant says.

“We’ve been at this since World War II, when we had a lot of sailors and soldiers settle here. And so, in California, believe it or not, we have the lowest per-capita prescribing of schedule-2 opioids. That’s because we’ve been at training and programs for decades.”

To an untrained doctor, Tennant says, addicts and pain patients can look similar. He says education in the medical community about pain management and opioids is almost nonexistent.

“Here is the thing the public doesn’t get,” he says. “The government doesn’t get it, the universities don’t get it, and I don’t know why this is so hard to understand.

“The CDC has got these guidelines. All they do is reiterate what is standard care anyway,” Tennant says. “In other words, you have standard care. That’s non-pharmacological medication, physical therapy, injections, surgery, topical medications, psychotherapy – and all of those things have to be tried before a patient can come here. Opioids are not an option; they are the last resort when there is no other option. You don’t use them until everything else has failed. Big myth. Big misunderstanding.”

“Opioids are not an option, they are the last resort when there is no other option. You don’t use them until everything else has failed.”

Doctor Marc Mentel chairs a Montana Medical Association committee on prescription drug abuse.

“I know nationally there is a big move to regulate these medicines, and have tighter regulations, and right now legislation is being considered,” Metel says. “A lot of us are proposing [that] education is really what we need to do. The opioid problem is a big problem in the U.S. and we have to face it and take it head-on. But at the same point in time, as we take that on, we don’t want to throw out patients who also suffer from chronic pain and may benefit from these medicines. And some of them leave with actually better quality of life with them being available.”

Mentel testified at the Montana legislative committee hearing on the pain patient’s bill of rights in March.

“Right now the exact means and ability to know what is the best way to manage chronic pain, what are the tools available, what is available out there? We are still developing the science,” Mentel told the committee.

“A pain patient’s bill of rights – although I agree with everything that is on there that they are talking about today, I agree with them wholeheartedly, it is actually in my oath I took as a physician to treat everyone as if I would want to be treated myself. I’m just fearful that a bill of rights, or some mandates for physicians to practice in a certain way, could get legislation ahead of the science.”

The Helena Democrat says she’ll put in a bill draft request for the 2017 legislative session, but she isn’t sure yet if she’ll be a formal sponsor for a pain patient’s bill of rights.

“Drug addiction is a problem, it is a very serious problem,” Caferro says. “What I don’t want to see happen, and what has been identified as a problem, is that people who really need access to medication get swept up in the drug addiction. They are two separate issues. You have drug addiction, and you have people who need medicine for their pain management. Those are two separate issues.”

Bob Mason, the pain patient from Helena who committed suicide, moved to Montana to try to get relief in 2012. He got a spinal cord stimulator implant, but afterwards, still needed opioids.

His daughter, Shane Mieski, said he didn’t like the drugs, but there were no other options.

“The opioids, they cause other issues,” Mieski says. “Your body starts to feel slow and a little overwhelmed, as he would mention. You don’t feel super sharp and on top of your game. At a certain point, there was nothing more that doctors could do for his type of pain. So, as a 67-year-old person, I think that you should try to enjoy any quality of life you get. And if that means taking medication to function, give them what they need.”

Opium-derived drugs are a two-headed beast. One clenches its jaws around addicts, whose lives it can crush. The other offers relief that can make life worth living, at least for long enough to allow a man like Bob Mason to feel like he can walk his dog.

The American Academy of Pain Medicine says a hundred million Americans suffer with chronic pain. That’s more than the number of people with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined.

Read the first part of this series on pain patients’ access to opioid painkillers in Montana.

This story was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Montana Health Care Foundation. 


3 thoughts on “Suicide As a Direct Result of Guidelines – Pain Helped Him Pull the Trigger – Montana Looking Hard at What is Happening Due to the CDC Guidelines

  1. That is the most saddest story take the mans pain medicine away!!!!!!! That’s bullshit what the hell is wrong with these assholes!!!!!! I’m saying all this because I’m in pain 24/7 that is not fair to the mason family let’s flip the coin the other way let’s find out when the next time that one of the CDC/dea go in for a operation let say for a knee replacement or a back operations women or men and
    Let the people that are suffering in chronic pain go in after he or she comes out of the operating room and goes to recovery and let’s tell he or she no pain medicine for you and let’s see how the feel.

    The poor guy couldn’t even walk his dog because of what is going with these rules they make up about every one is a drug addict!!!!! Ya the picture of bobby mason ya ok he really looks like a drug addict !!!!!!!!!!!! Come on CDC/dea

    My prayers and thoughts go out to the mason family

    I’m sorry for your loss



  2. I am very sorry for your loss. I too am a Chronic Pain Patient and am also facing the same problem, I cannot have my medication filled either. Along with the CDC guidelines all Patient’s must know that whatever state they live in the Medical Board is first in line to prevent Doctor’s from treating their chronic pain patients. This is a witch hunt. The Medical Boards pressure Doctor’s to not treat patients with opioids or make them under prescribe causing patients to be unable to have quality of life or dignity. Medical Boards threaten Dr’s with revolking their Medical license or prison time. Essentially causing patients to suffer more and in a matter of 1 day suspend a DR’s license preventing them from earning a living. This has been done by some medical boards already. They don’t even give a Physician the opportunity to defend themselves. They will take the word of only one Dr. hired by them to make the decision of revolking the license of Physicians. They decide GUILTY before proving Innocent! Thus many Physicians are afraid to care for their patients as only they have gone to Medical School and know what the patients need but do not want to lose their licence too. Soon we will not have any good pain specialist due to this horrible injustice to both patients and Physicians. We must also not forget the mass Media that also causes hysteria when celebrities die of over dose. There are legitimate chronic pain patients…and then there are true addicts, the two should not be put in the same category! Physicians have taken their Oath. Perhaps their are some Physicians who do not follow it however they should be given a opportunity to defend themselves first! As a precaution the Medical Board and DEA can suspend the question the ability to prescribe opioids. Instead they take away hundreds of patients the Physician that they trust and have in most cases been seeing for years and have built confidence in. On another matter that patients may not be aware of the Medical Board has the final decision on what DR’s will have their license revoked. Physicians are not judged by a court of law, only by them. The only time they do is if the Medical Board has enough evidence to give the District Attorney enough evidence to prosecute in the case of patients deaths due to a Dr. truly not taking their Oath seriously and does not monitor a patient adequately causing serious harm. This type of Physicians are few but do need to be stopped. We already have a shortage of Physicians and Pain Specialist this witch hunt against excellent Dr’s must be stopped. Write your states Medical Board and Senators and Governor with your situation. Physicians should not be afraid or bullied into not doing what is in the best interest of their patients. The pressure needs to be put on the Medical Board and the DEA by the thousands of Chronic Pain Patient’s.


  3. I have taken this opportunity to share my heartbreaking story in hopes these witch hunting Opiate ill informed skeptics will read and understand that I would have no life without Medically prescribed Opiates by a physicians care and strictly monitored monthly urine and blood test. Please remember that An Opinion Before A Thorough Investigation Is The Epitome Of Ignorance! And that a little more compassion from the Medical Field and its representatives could have saved my beautiful Stepdaughters life. Let me say this! A person who has a addictive personality will abuse anything that helps them feel better. I have taken Oxycontin for 12 years , I have had 20 major surgery’s in 9 years. I have so much physical pain I can not even get out of bed with ouit pain meds and when I run out I run out and just lay in bed praying the Lord relieve me of this horrible condition and I pray God you pain med skeptics never go through what I go through everyday of my life when the only thing you have to do is threaten what help I get, Shame on you! There will always be drug abuse and as the so called war on drugs has failed all this will! All you do is stoke and aid the drug pushers business to knew heights in the Black Market of Heroin while depriving folks as me to this horrible movement! My Stepdaughter committed suicide 4 years ago because of being treated like a drug addict by her family and doctors when all along she suffered from Lupus and Fibro which I believe was brought on by a deadly car crash at 18 , she told me between that which I was being put through and what they were putting her through she was not going to live her life in such a hell brought on by people like you that are on a witch hunt to out law Opiates and pain meds that give us some sort of a life . As a retired Police officer and worked indirectly close to the DEA, you people do not have a clue how thrilled you are making the illegal opiate trade and think of my Late Stepdaughter as you continue on with this 2016 Version of the ( 1940s Propaganda Film named REEFER MADNESS )movement to outlaw opiates! Just like the slaughter of children at Sandy Hook if there would have just been gun laws , my God they were Gun Laws , the guns that murdered all those 20 children were all registered and owned by a school teacher! You fight Drug Addiction in Elementary education by teaching all children the dangers of Booze and Tobacco which if these witch hunters want for us to know the real truth but they do not. I miss my Stepdaughter a so much and some of us will continue on the fight to protect our right to feel better and function without fear of these witch hunters trying to convince us to commit suicide . And they are trying to do exactly THAT!
    The under line real truth is THESE witch hunters would rather us Chronic Pain sufferers commit suicide are and DRINK all the BOOZE we can drink! The Federals legalized it ( ALCOHOL) knowing its a more deadly drug than Strychnine. And just because the DEA has miserably failed with their witch hunt type movement on drugs why do they deprive us sick people of our Constitutional Rights to be Happy in that pursuit of with Professional Physicians to take meds that give us relief of this horrible malady of Chronic Pain ! May God have mercy on their miserable souls they that seek to destroy us Chronic Pain Sufferers only and little hope of temporary relief of this horrible sickness.


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